Don’t hate me because I have cancer …

… No, I’m serious.  I really think if I could fully portray the gifts that have poured out from this crazy season in our lives, I think y’all might be tempted to wish it was contagious.  And though I was raised by a Mama who often said, “sweetie, it’s not nice to brag …” and I know that to be true but I can’t help myself today.  I feel like this is a brag on y’all and the Lord and all the ways He has somehow amazingly creatively woven our story and woven people into our lives so that I honestly feel like I’m in an enviable position.  The gifts of cancer far exceed chemotherapy, or baldness, or poking and prodding, or mashed boobs on mammograms, or even the grief of not being able to have any more (biological) kiddos.  In His goodness and sovereignty and kindness, He has showered us with His gifts and His people and who knew there were so many “perks” of cancer?!  Just to name a few …

– friends come out of the woodwork (whatever that expression means?!  is that a reference to termites?! anyways …) both near and far, recent and old.  I have a new friend that I met at the gym who dropped off flowers on my doorstep this week and I have my bestie from elementary school keeping up with us and my running buddies and my old Arthur Andersen buddies and Protiviti friends and friends from First Baptist Academy and friends from church and friends from Bible study and friends from the gym and one of the daycare workers eve chased Gigi down the other day to ask about me and then called me to check on me! And then there are friends like the one who just brought me groceries and picked up something from the tailor and my dear friend and old roommate who brought lunch at MD Anderson and then there are the friends I just emailed about keeping Linc this week and then there are dear friends from college that made me laugh all weekend at A&M.  I couldn’t possibly recap my weekend with pictures and stories well as Mel did: thebigmamablog.com.  Who doesn’t need friends like these?!

– granted, cancer is a shot to the stomach and news noone wants to hear and a zillion doctors appointments and clipboards but to help counter the burden, it’s also been a zillion amazing meals, a zillion hours of help with Linc, several dozen date nights with free babysitting, a bowl full of letters and notes of encouragement, many gifts on doorstep or mail, enough hugs and encouragement to keep a girl going, and even Starbucks deliveries.  What’s not to love about all of that?!

– bald ain’t even so bad:)  I wasn’t trying to be sassy over the weekend but there was a picture-taking moment with 3 of my bestest friends from college (if you didn’t read Big Mama, maybe this will entice you to go back …) and Gulley complained about her hair and Mel complained about her bangs.  And I wasn’t trying to shame them AT ALL (girls, really, I promise!) but I said, “girls, c’mon, I”m bald …” and really just tried to free them up because I was pretty sure anyone looking at that picture would be more focused on the bald head than the bangs out of place.  But, truthfully, it’s quite nice not to worry about your hair in photos – or ever!  I might slightly kind of have to admit that I like being bald.  I get ready faster than Scott and I’m not self-focused in the mirror and I’m not critical of my hair and I don’t have to worry for photos.  And, honestly, I like it.  Wouldn’t most of you girls love to have about 5 months of never using a brush or hairdryer?!  I repeat … what’s not to love?!

– you meet some amazing people!  If it weren’t for cancer, I wouldn’t know Lezley and I wouldn’t know Dr. Tereffe or any of my team of doctors and nurses at Baylor.  And, because of cancer, you get to talk to a lot of folks that you wouldn’t otherwise know or have a voice with.  An old old friend from the youth group when I was a volunteer (and she was a kiddo) called last week to talk about her diagnosis.  And we had a sweet heart to heart about cancer and life and the Lord in my living room. And then, there’s the really sweet moment I just had a few minutes ago when I got an email from my nurse, Christina, asking permission to share my blog with another patient.  Of course!  Who wouldn’t want to have such an easy platform and countless opportunities to get to share the sweetness of my Savior and the countless ways He’s provided for us?!

– you get a priority check.  All of a sudden, with cancer, you have a renewed ability to prioritize the things that really matter: people and Jesus.  Years and years ago, one of my favorite truths was: there are only 2 things on this earth that will last forever, the Word of God and the souls of men … invest your lives in these things!  Cancer helps my focus.  Sure, I still slip back into an obsession with productivity or people pleasing or performance but, all in all, as crazy as it sounds, my world is more at peace with a slower pace and proper priorities because of cancer.  And who doesn’t need that in the midst of a crazy-paced world?!

So, though I know it’s not nice to brag, how ’bout them apples?!  I think sometimes I cringe when I feel like people feel sorry for me because I’m thinking “I think if you knew the real story and the ins and outs of this, they’d be jealous of me … not pitying me!”  Yeah, sure, I have to fight through fatigue (and it’s not nice to brag but while I’m at it I’d like to tell you what I can’t wait to tell Scott when he gets home but I finally jogged again for more than :30!) and we’ll spend $200 in gas this week just to get to doctors and back and Scott will miss 2 days of work and I was sad waving bye to Linc in his Nana’s car even though I knew he would have a wonderful time but, much greater than all that, I have friends, family, my faith and the love of God to see me through.  And it’s all pretty darn glorious.  Please don’t hate me because I have cancer.  And please don’t quit loving on me because  I still need you.  And I still thank you.  And I still thank my God for all the gifts of cancer.  And, if you read this blog, you are one of them.

How is God so big that He can turn something like this into one of the biggest blessings of our lives?!

Praise be to God for great things He has done!

 

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12 thoughts on “Don’t hate me because I have cancer …

  1. Jennifer! You are amazing! You have left so many sweet messages on my Luke’s Caringbridge site and not once did you mention your own battle with cancer. I heard about it from mutual friends a few weeks ago and finally tracked down your website…which is absolutely beautiful. All of it. Your thoughts, your words, your sweet family. Thank you for reminding me today of the two most important relationships: God and man. The only two things eternal. I am so grateful this life isn’t as good as it gets!! I love your heart and will be lifting you up daily to the capable hands of the Father. Love you.

  2. Hi Jennifer, Lauren from Protiviti told me about your blog and I have been following it for a few weeks. I just wanted to say how encouraged and inspired by your attitude and faith, all the while battling with breast cancer. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful for all that we do and are blessed with. We will continue to keep you and your family in our prayers. -Stephanie Crews

  3. Jennifer, I am always uplifted when I read your blog! You write just like you talk and I love every word! I cannot believe that your collage roommate is Big Mama. I have read her blog for quite some time, and I jumped up and down when I went to her site this afternoon and saw pictures of you! I am continually amazed at how small this world is. Although, I do not know your friend, Mel, I think she is hilarious and I look forward to what she has to say, you are lucky to have her as a friend, and she is equally blessed to have you in her life. I have missed seeing you at Beloved, please know that I continue to pray for you and your sweet family. Hope to see you soon
    XOXO. Lynn Stocker

  4. So, you found the silver lining! I know God doesn’t give us the strength until we need it, but I’m not sure I could compare to you, if faced with the same challenge. You are amazing! Keep up the fight.

  5. You are loved! Of course I saw Mel’s blog entry and loved every second of it. I know you must have had such a great time. I am so glad! Another benefit to being bald–no lice! Don’t get me started. . .

  6. Jumped over here from Mel’s blog. I read several of your posts and wanted to let you know I’m praying for you and your husband as you make the decision regarding your next steps. I got three opinions before I proceeded with any treatment, but the pressure from so many folks to not wait “too long” (what is too long? there is no way to know!) was tough as I went through the process of seeing so many doctors. In the end, they all had the same recommendation (mastectomy, which was done in April). The doctor I chose had experience with performing a skin-sparing mastectomy and was able to insert the implant immediately without the need for expanders (amazing!).

    It was a blessing that we sought the other opinions. Like you, this journey has allowed us to meet some wonderful people. I had wanted to go to MD Anderson, but it is very far away, so I asked God to provide a way if that was the direction we were supposed to go in. He answered my prayer via a doctor in my state who has worked at MD Anderson and is one of the best in the field and has become a friend to us. These doctors and nurses *invest* in us, and I am humbled by all they do.

    I chuckled at your hubby’s comment about getting another opinion via con call. My hubby wanted to do the same thing! 🙂 He was a trooper and went to all the appointments with me. I encourage you not to hesitate to re-visit a doctor just to make sure you have all your questions answered. Blessings to you.

  7. Way back when…eons ago…when we discovered that my sister had cancer, I remember her PANIC over losing her hair. Before it happened. The dread was the worst. The actual wasn’t as bad. I tried to convince her to get a mullet wig. I thought it would be loads of fun. She could sport it along with a tube top.
    One thing about cancer…you learn to laugh when you can and not sweat the small stuff…like hair. God bless you, Jen. Best of luck on your journey!!!

  8. Hi, Jennifer! I linked from Melanie’s blog and this post gave me chills. I am a cancer survivor (Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2008) and I totally agree! Non-cancer people always look at me like I’ve lost my mind when I say that it wasn’t all bad. After the shock of the diagnosis, which undoubtedly Shook. Me. To. My. Very. Core., it took me about a week to get over myself and start counting the blessings.
    And hair…it ain’t nothin’ compared to livin’. Right? And not having to shave my legs…Now THAT was a sweet deal!
    I wish you all the best in your treatment and healing. You look beautiful in all the pictures Melanie posted the other day. Blessings to you and your family.

  9. I’m so encouraged by you friend. So encouraged. I’ve been encouraged by you for years – way back to Thurs night bible study. Thank you for loving on us in a difficult time. Just reading your words pulls my heart right back to the One holding me up. Praying for you guys as you walk your difficult road. Can’t wait to see what He has in store for you next. 🙂

  10. Pingback: Pic Your Pleasure | Pink. Pray. Love.

  11. Pingback: A little history. And a hysterectomy. | Pink. Pray. Love.

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